It continues to be a blessing serving these boys, but along side that a challenge to afford all that’s needed, so if you can help us this month with a donation, we would be so incredibly grateful. Thank you again for all you are giving and all you do to encourage us in this opportunity to make a difference.
We thought you might like to read this lovely testimonial, sent in by one of our amazing SOS Chai interns.
[As an Intern with Bless last year, I had the privilege of serving alongside the incredible SOS Chai team, where both French locals and members of the church continue to distribute hot meals, drinks, clothes and basic essentials to a group of around 60 boys, most of whom come from South Sudan, using a converted ambulance (Mr T) in the presqu’île district of Caen. The team now goes out twice weekly, serving the boys (most of whom are in their 20s) on a Wednesday and Sunday evening whilst playing card games, trying to listen, for those who were willing and able to share, to parts of their stories. It is such a blessing to serve and fundraise for these guys, who in turn, as Chrissie and Gerard affirm so often, bless us enormously. It continues to be an enormous encouragement to see both French locals and international students in Caen getting involved and giving so selflessly to this work. Over the last few months, we have however noticed an evident increase in the diversity of nationalities coming to the van, with boys from Iran, Afghanistan and the Congo. As a result, the demand for food and basic essentials, sleeping bags and shoes, especially during the winter months has been particularly high, which evidently brings with it some financial strain.
It was about half-way through my internship that I asked some of the boys to teach me a few numbers and colours in Arabic. For those brief moments, the “us” and “them” were reversed, and these individuals became teachers and encouragers, as both linguistic and cultural experts, writing figures on the steamed up windows of the van or letting us practice simple colours during a game of UNO. We know that in spite of their seemingly hopeless situations, these young men have hopes, dreams and gifts, alongside a courage and determination which never fails to astonish us. And there is incredible beauty in that.
We often don’t know the “why.” We often don’t know the “how” or the “how long.” And we most definitely don’t know what is to come for these boys. Whether it be when considering their long-term prospects or simply watching them wait for us to leave the parking slot so that they can prepare a place to sleep on the tarmac, it is both easy and natural to feel overwhelmed and somewhat helpless. Yet, what we do know is that these young guys are here, now. Collectively they are a group of refugees, yes, but better known as Rasheed, Abdul, Abdullah, Mohammad… A is a born leader. R takes extra coffee to make for the boys in the squat. In the absence of their own family, of their own people, they need to know that they are still loved and still valued as individuals, whose stories are worth listening to. In the now, for a few hours a week, SOS Chai seeks to show some of our Father’s great love and concern for these boys, to whom, we can entrust their lives; the “what has been” and the “what is to come.”